Fibromyalgia is a mysterious condition that inflicts its victims with muscle pain, fatigue, and tender points on the body that hurt when pressure is applied. It is through these tender points, 18 in all, that a diagnosis of fibromyalgia is often made. Along with the pain and fatigue, other symptoms include headaches, memory lapses, depression, sleep disorders and irritable bowel syndrome.
Food Allergens Cause Inflammation
Fibromyalgia (FM) is an inflammatory disorder and as such can be worsened with the consumption of certain foods. Food allergens can also exacerbate fibromyalgia symptoms, causing an increase in inflammation and pain levels in the body. Most common food allergens include:
- Preservatives and food additives, especially MSG
- Citrus fruits
- Nightshades, including peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes and strawberries
By eliminating these foods from the diet for a period of one month, and then gradually reintroducing them and noting body reactions, a person with FM can determine which foods cause problems. If symptoms worsen or return, it indicates sensitivity to that particular food and it should be eliminated from the diet entirely.
How Different Foods Affect Fibromyalgia Symptoms
Refined carbohydrates and sugar promote fatigue; they compromise the immune system and increase pain for the FM sufferer. Trans fats, found in margarine and baked goods, and saturated fats found in most animal products (meat, dairy and butter) all cause cholesterol levels to rise. The rise in cholesterol interferes with circulation which ultimately elevates pain levels. Animal products contain arachidonic acid, a promoter of inflammation as well as pain. It is better to eat vegetable based protein sources and avoid foods that increase inflammation in the body.
Which Foods Reduce Pain?
An anti-inflammatory diet can be of great help in the management of symptoms of fibromyalgia. Foods that reduce pain and inflammation include:
- Fresh fruit
- Cold-water fish
- Dark leafy green vegetables
- Unrefined, complex carbs such as brown rice and rolled oats
- Skinless turkey and chicken
Fresh fruit and vegetables are important because they contain plant sterols which are useful in stimulating the immune system and reducing inflammation. They are also rich in antioxidants that help to capture free radicals that do damage to joints and muscles. Dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds and seafood are all rich in magnesium, a mineral often deficient in FM sufferers. Muscle spasms and pain are frequently caused by magnesium deficiency.
Don’t Be Afraid
The reduction of animal products can cause worry for some people who fear inadequate protein consumption. However, it should not be difficult to get enough protein although supplementation may be necessary for vitamins B-12 and D as well as minerals zinc and calcium. It is possible to fulfill the dietary requirements for calcium through these foods:
- Dark leafy greens
- Almond, soy and rice milks
- Fortified orange juice
It has long been established that a diet that is based on proper nutrition is beneficial for people with chronic conditions – including fibromyalgia. By eating a wide variety of whole foods inflammation and pain can be kept at a lower level and nutrition is enhanced. It is easy to obtain vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K as well as minerals such as magnesium, zinc and calcium, potassium, folate, and fiber through a vegetarian-style diet. By increasing the consumption of vitamins B and C the production of palliative neurotransmitters in the central nervous system are assisted, helping to reduce pain.
Dietary therapy is an accessible and inexpensive way to treat fibromyalgia symptoms naturally.